Finally . . . New Bellevue Condos

While several new apartment communities have been completed and more are planned in Bellevue, its been nearly a decade since any new condominium residences were built.  (Both Bellevue Towers and Washington Square were completed in 2009. WA Square still has developer owned units for sale in both towers.) Finally, there’s new condominium inventory on the horizon.

PARK 12
Just east of the central business district, construction has started on this community of 12 luxury townhomes. Sited in a protected park overlooking Kelsey Creek, 3 bedroom floor plans offer 2,000+ SF with an open concept design, contemporary finishes, private garages and rooftop decks. The convenient location is minutes to downtown Bellevue, the Spring District and future light rail. Prices start at $835,000. Completion is expected in fall 2017; nearly half of the homes are already pre-sold.

METRIC
Just a few homes remain in this new community of 23 townhomes just south of Main Street at 107th Avenue SE. Homes are generous in size with 2,000+ SF featuring contemporary design, rooftop decks with skyline views and private garages. A few homes remain with prices starting at $1 million.

VISCAIA
Also under construction, 18 townhomes will be available for occupancy fall 2017. Located in the Crossroads neighborhood, the community is walk-able to shopping, restaurants and multi-screen theaters. 3 bedroom open concept floor plans offer 2,000+ SF of living space. Prices start at $789,900.

ONE88
With no new condos downtown in nearly a decade, One88 will be a welcome addition to the city’s residential skyline. Bosa Development, developer of the successful Insignia condominiums in Seattle, is set to construct a 21 story building at the corner of NE 2nd Street and Bellevue Way NE. 143 residences ranging from 1 bedroom floor plans to luxury penthouses are planned complimented by world class owner amenities. Construction is scheduled to start early this year with occupancy in 2019. No floor plan or price information is available.

ELEV8 at Bellevue International Plaza
Two 40 story towers will be part of a four tower residential/hotel/office/retail project at the corner of 110th Avenue NE and NE 8th Street (west of the Bravern). Phase 1 of the project is projected to include 355 condominium residences in one tower and 435 apartment residences in the other. High end retail and an urban grocer are part of the first phase plans. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-to-late 2017 with a 2019 completion. No floor plan or price information available.

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Downtown Bellevue – Opening Soon

Big changes coming to downtown Bellevue with the addition of several new shopping and dining experiences celebrating grand openings in the coming weeks.

 

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Carmines will offer an upscale white tablecloth dining experience plus an expansive covered, heated patio. Located at 88 102nd Avenue NE at the south side of the Downtown Park. Scheduled to open September 12th.

 

WHOLE FOODS 365

The organic grocer’s small format, less expensive store is scheduled to open September 14th at Bellevue Square in the space previously occupied by J C Penney. Wild Ginger has been selected to operate a quick, casual dining space within the store.rei

 

Opening September 13th, REI is relocating its Redmond store to Bellevue. REI will open in the new retail space shared with Trader Joes and Home Goods at the corner of NE 4th Street and 116th Avenue NE. The Grand Opening celebration is scheduled for September 23-25.

 

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Trader Joe’s is targeting a mid-October opening at the new location just east of downtown Bellevue. Trader Joe’s will share space with REI and Home Goods.

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Home Goods, the popular home fashion and decor retailer, is planning its grand opening for October 2nd. Home Goods will be joined by REI and Trader Joe’s.

 

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CAFE TROPHY – Trophy Cupcakes has relocated to a larger space at The Bravern and transitioned to a bakery-cafe-champagne bar. The cupcakes we love will still be featured along with an expanded menu of breakfast and lunch items and evening dinner selections with an impressive wine and beer list.

Rising Bellevue Condo Values

Bellevue skyline sepia toneWhile the number of condos sold increased just slightly the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year (40 in 2015  –  46 in 2016), median sales prices are up significantly . . . nearly 20% this year vs. last. Statistics for April reflect a continuing trend of fewer condos coming on the market, multiple offers, homes selling quickly and sales prices at or above list prices. Of the 46 condos sold in downtown Bellevue the first quarter of this year, 29 sold at or above the list price and most sold in ten days or less.

There doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight. There are a few condo projects in the design pipeline, but those homes won’t be available for presale for another 18+ months and occupancy is well over two years away. Hundreds of new apartment units have recently been added to downtown, with more on the way. It will be interesting to see if any of the existing apartment communities consider converting to condos in the future. Buyers would definitely welcome more condo inventory to choose from

Housing – What Can We Expect in 2016

January calendar

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeff Djevdet

2015 definitely saw the continuation of price recovery for houses and condominiums in Seattle and on the Eastside. If you were in the market, either buying or selling a home last year, you were aware of the historically low levels of available inventory and escalating prices in most neighborhoods. With so few homes to choose from and so many buyers in the market, multiple offers were common, time on the market declined and prices rose in most communities. So what’s in store for 2016?

The Seattle/Bellevue area still ranks high nationally as a very desirable place to live and work. With a positive employment climate, more people are relocating to the area than are leaving which will continue to add to the housing crunch for buyers and renters. Interest rates are expected to rise this year but fixed rate mortgages aren’t expected to exceed 5% – still very attractive and affordable for buyers. Area housing prices are predicted to continue to increase, good news for sellers,  but at a more modest level than last year. Depending on which forecast you read, area housing prices will increase in the range of 4.5% to 6% this year.

Home values will continue to rise but at a more typical and sustainable pace than the last few years. Its likely demand will still exceed supply but with more households returning to positions of positive equity, more homeowners may finally have the ability to make plans to move up, downsize or relocate, improving inventory levels.

Is this year the perfect time to sell or buy a home? Demand for housing is high and we’re in a very strong sellers market  –  interest rates are low which benefits buyers and investors. Rents are skyrocketing; if you’ve been thinking about buying this would be an excellent time to purchase your first home and begin to build equity for yourself rather than your landlord. This could also be the time to maximize your equity position and buy a larger home, an investment property, downsize or think about a second or vacation home. How long will low interest rates last and property values continue to increase? That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Major changes to the market aren’t anticipated, so its a safe bet that getting into a home now will result in increasing equity and a solid investment.

How Smart is Your Home?

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flickr/ebaylink

I was recently  approached for an         on-the-street survey conducted by a major local tech company regarding smart houses, asking if I would value “smart house” features in the future for comfort, convenience, energy conservation and security.

The growth of  “smart homes” has exploded worldwide. According to a recent article in Realtor® Magazine, approximately 100 million households will be “smart” by the end of the year and that number is expected to grow to 300 million in the next ten years. Obviously tech companies are banking on this trend, as the market for products regulating home automation, appliances, energy use, security and data analytics is growing. The big question is consumer need and acceptance . . .

  • will a smart home factor in a buyer’s decision to purchase one home over another
  • with prices still relatively high and technology still fairly complicated, will the average homeowner embrace the technology
  • is this just a passing fad, or could the technology eventually take off (solar panels took years) and demonstrate a return-on-investment

Consumers are increasingly tech savvy and showing more interest in smart home technology. While these products are growing in popularity (thermostats, alarms, cameras, auto-locking doors, etc.) and can be controlled from a smart phone or tablet from just about anywhere, how many buyers will be more likely to buy a home if smart products are installed? Is smart home technology an upgrade the average homeowner would consider instead of making cosmetic updates? It will be interesting to see how long it takes for smart home technology to be the new norm.

Seattle vs. San Francisco – Affordability and Lifestyle

Seattle SkylineSan Francisco

Both San Francisco and Seattle have an abundance of tech jobs. Anyone in the tech industry casting a wide net in their job search could expect to find job opportunities in both cities. While both locations would provide career growth opportunities and an interesting lifestyle, where would you move and how would you make that choice.

San Francisco is a fabulous city and salaries in the Bay area can easily be 20% higher, or more, than the Seattle marketplace, but many tech workers are choosing Seattle over the Bay area and Silicon Valley’s higher paying jobs. No question the cost of living here is on the rise, but the Seattle area has a significantly lower cost of living when it comes to renting or purchasing housing, parking, dining out, entertainment, groceries, etc. Locating where the employment base is, and where living is more affordable, could explain why Google expanded its campus in Kirkland and Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Dropbox have located offices here.

Friends who recently left San Francisco and moved back to the Eastside were renting a small studio in downtown San Francisco for $3,000/month + $300/month for parking. While the opportunity to return to the Eastside was key in their relocation decision, the difference in living expenses was also attractive. Renting a luxury one bedroom condo on the Eastside at $2,000/month, parking included, definitely made up for any difference in salary. While home prices and rents have increased in Seattle and on the Eastside, our prices still pale in comparison to San Francisco.

A higher paying job is enticing, and San Francisco is definitely a desirable place to live, but when adding up the list of basic items that can be as much as 30 percent cheaper here than in San Francisco, maybe the city on the bay is better as a great place to spend a weekend.